New START Senate Vote – Wait 'Til Next Year?
No, this is no Cub fan’s (or old Brooklyn Dodger fan’s) lament. The Washington Post yesterday quoted Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) as saying there is considerable sentiment in the Republican Caucus that a vote on New START ratification should wait until next year, and not be voted on in the “lame duck” session after the mid-term elections. (This after the Obama Administration has promised $180 billion over the next decade to upgrade the US nuclear weapons production complex and delivery systems, and after the nuke weapons budget got a 10% increase that almost no other government program got in the recent Continuing Resolution to keep the govt. operating, mostly at current budget levels, all of this supposedly to buy R votes for New START).
This is no big surprise, and it remains to be seen whether the R’s who feel this way will succeed in kicking the can down the road. If they do, the treaty, a modest but important step to cut the US and Russian arsenals of deployed, strategic nuclear warheads by between 1/4 and 1/3 to 1, 550 weapons each, will likely languish. Treaty ratifications require a 2/3 vote in the Senate, and finding 67 Senators to vote in favor would be even tougher next year if, as presumed, the R’s pick up Senate seats.
Harry Reid, John Kerry, and the Administration will need to stay firm on their plans to put the treaty to a vote in the lame duck session, if, that is, they are confident they have the 67 votes, which is by no means a sure bet.